Bathtime will never be the same after attending Soap, the often silly and often downright sexy aerial acrobatic show at the Riverside Studios, which proves there is more than one use for the humble tub.
Six porcelain bathtubs sit at various heights on the otherwise empty stage. As the music starts, legs begin appearing over the edges like synchronised swimmers. As the rest of the bodies gradually appear in various amazing contorted shapes, the routine quickly becomes a camp, silly dance, with men in Y fronts flicking towels at each other and the bikini-clad girls playing along in amusement.
Amongst the acrobatic jokers and impressive contortionists, a big-haired opera singer sings along to the antics with a variety of operatic classics adapted for the watery theme. Hidden behind the various talents of the acrobatic cast is a geeky, goggle-wearing clown, who wins the audience over with her uncool attitude and Mr Bean-esque comedy.
Performed as a variety of skits and routines, the show involves each member of the cast taking it in turns to wow with their unique skills. A woman with what can only be described as hands for feet balances hoops and other such objects on her toes, spinning them in the air. Keeping to the camp, playful theme, a juggler juggles whilst stripping, barely managing to keep a handle on his balls.
Most impressive are the acrobatics that take place with the cast balancing on the edges of baths as they contort their bodies and perform what are literally – in the presence of porcelain – death-defying acts. They splash water out into the audience as they slam themselves in and out of the tubs, to astonished mutterings in the audience of “I can barely shave my legs in the bath!”
The production’s design adds an extra sparkle, with the lighting turning the water electric blue, and a soundtrack that ranges from Tool to Radiohead creating an exciting, tension-filled two hours.
Soap is a light and fun way to pass an evening, demanding nothing more from you than eager eyes and a relaxed approach to the idea of getting wet. However, while as a feminist I deplore the objectification of women – which the female members of the cast manage to avoid, at one point performing a routine in jeans to the astonishment of many women in the audience who can barely sit down after a meal in theirs let alone put their legs behind their head – be warned that the male cast fully embrace taking their clothes off, creating many a Diet Coke moment for several members of the audience, and I left feeling only slightly guilty of utterly objectifying the men in this somewhat steamy, if camp, show.